Wednesday, September 23, 2009 Beck: Replacement Refs? A Look Back at 1995

Howard Beck remembers the last time the NBA locked out the refs:
“They need five of these guys to equal one of the regular refs,” Charles Oakley, the former Knicks bruiser, complained in 1995. He described the replacements in one word: “Terrible.”

On the night the regular referees returned, after a 68-day standoff, some players could hardly contain their joy.

“The real refs are back?” the Washington Bullets’ Chris Webber said. “Hallelujah.”
Expect the replacement referees to be inconsistent in different ways and their inconsistency to indicate, perhaps, some ways in which the league wants games officiated differently. Not that the lockout isn't primarily about money and power. Nor that the better replacement refs won't eventually be assimilated:
17 of the N.B.A.’s current referees began as replacements. That group that includes some of the league’s most respected referees, as well as some of its most controversial.

Joey Crawford joined the N.B.A. during a strike in 1977. Danny Crawford, Ken Mauer, Eddie F. Rush and Derrick Stafford got their start during a lockout in 1983. Twelve others, including Bill Kennedy and Leon Wood, broke into the N.B.A. during the 1995 lockout.

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